The non-inclusion of State Police in the Constitution was an error. It was a grave omission. The lapse occurred in 1976, forty-six years ago.
No one could have imagined forty-six years ago that our security challenges would become so grave to this level, that we now live in perpetual fear at the mercy of terrorists, kidnappers, Boko Haram, Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), political thugs, armed robbers and the rest.
Who could have imagined that our country will be so mismanaged like this, to the extent that we are experiencing depression and bewilderment of crippling fear like a nagging hound of hell pursuing our every footstep; certainly no one.
Instead of emotional lamentation, bewailing or grieving, if we really wanted State Police, we could have had it. No need crying over spilled milk. There is no use stressing out over things that have already happened.
But if we have really wanted State Police, that blunder should have been corrected by now. And perhaps our security apparatus would have improved. For some of us who grew up in this country before independence and even during the first Republic, we experienced the services of regional police and the local government native police called Akoda.
If you look at Section 106(4) of the 1963 Constitution, the establishment of regional police was recognised. The Section states that, “Subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of this section, the Commissioner of Police of a Region shall comply with the directions of the Premier of the Region or such other Minister of the Government of the Region as may be authorised in that behalf by the Premier with respect to the maintaining and securing of public safety and public order within the Region or cause them to be complied with.”
When we have issues like the creation of State Police, we have no choice than to trace how the Presidential Constitution was made with particular reference to the founding fathers. No matter how often we make that reference, they are the framers of our constitution. Moreso, our Presidential Constitution did not pass through a referendum, plebiscite, initiative or mandate.
General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi MVO, MBE (March 3, 1924–July 29, 1966), the first Military Head of State of Nigeria, on assuming power on January 1, 1966, suspended the 1963 Constitution and with it the Regional Police. General Ironsi promulgated the Constitution (Suspension and Modification Decree 1966), Decree 1 dated January 17, 1966 but not published in the official gazette until March 4, 1966. The decree pronounced the death of Regional Police.
Even in his speech at the Lugard Hall in Kaduna on April 19, 1967, at a meeting with Emirs and Chiefs, the then Military Governor of the Northern Region, Lt-Colonel Hassan Usman Katsina (March 31, 1933 – July 24, 1995) emphasised that Regional Police and native authority had become a thing of the past. He said on that day that, “one of the main features of the Panel’s recommendations was a closer control of the native courts of the Government. The taking over of the native courts by the Government was in fact accepted in principle by the civilian Government and judging from some of the legislation it had passed since 1958 there is no doubt that it was working towards the goal”, he declared. Throughout the tenure of General Yakubu Gowon (GCFR) from 1966-1975, there was no mention on the need to create the State Police.
It was against this background that the Constitutional Drafting Committee was announced by the then Head of State, General Ramat Murtala Mohammed (November 8, 1938 – February 13, 1976) in his broadcast on October 1, 1975. The committee was headed by Chief Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams (QC, SAN; December 16, 1920 – March 26, 2005). The committee then established seven subcommittees. The subcommittee on Public Services, including the Armed forces and the Police, was headed by Dr Obi Wali (February 27, 1932-26 April, 1993). Other members of the subcommittee were Alhaji Ahmed Talib, Colonel M. Pedro Martins, Dr O. Idris, Mr A. Makele, Alhaji Mamman Daura and Chief Ekanem Ita.
Alhaji Ahmed Talib was the chairman of New Nigerian Development Bank and the former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria.
Chief Ekanem Ita, who died on Thursday, September 3, 2009, was a former Registrar and Secretary to the Council of the University of Ibadan (1982–1994). High Chief Ekanem-Ita attended the University College, Ibadan (1960–1963); Columbia University, New York, U.S.A. (1972-1973) and University of London’s Institute of Education (1989). He obtained a B.A. (Hons) History (Ibadan), a Masters Degree (Columbia), a Certificate in University Administration (London) and was honoured with a Doctor of Literature degree by the University of Calabar. High Chief Ekanem-Ita was a government, a Rockefeller Foundation and a British Council scholar. He joined the services of the University of Ibadan as a Graduate Assistant/Administrative Officer in 1963, was promoted Assistant/Senior Assistant Registrar (1968 -1975), became a Deputy/Senior Deputy Registrar (1975-1982) and was the Registrar and Secretary to Council, Senate, Congregation and Convocation from 1982 to 1994. The late High Chief Ekanem-Ita was a member of the American Association for Higher Education, Washington; Association of Commonwealth Universities; International Association of World Universities and the International Committee of University Administrators. He was a member of the Federal Government/National Universities Commission Panels on University Administration Review; a Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Councils of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (1997-2000) and Cross River State University of Technology (2000–2003). Some other national assignments included membership of the Constitution Drafting Committee (1975-76) and membership of the Visitation Panel to Rivers State University of Science and Technology (1995-1996 and 2005-2006). A traditional title holder, late High Chief Ekanem-Ita was the Ada-idaha-ke-Eburutu; Etonwed Efik Eburutu; Mkpisong Ukara Ekondo Efik; Ikpamfum Calabar and Ntufam of Qua Nation, Calabar. High Chief Ekanem-Ita who was nick-named ‘Registrar Emeritus’ held the record of being the longest serving Registrar in any Nigerian University for twelve years!
Dr Tajudeen Olawale Ayinla Idris (1940-2018) later served as Commissioner of Education in Lagos State. He was born in Epe in Lagos State. He had his education at the Native Authority School, Epe, 1947-1948 Catholic School, Lekki, 1949-1952; Ansar-Ud-Deen School, Epe, 1953-1954; Ahmadiyya College, Agege, 1955-1959; Northwestern Polytechnic, London, 1961-1962; London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, 1962-1966; Nigerian Law School, Lagos, 1966-1967. He was called to the Bar, Lagos, and enrolled as a Solicitor, Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1967. He was a clerk in the office of the Prime Minister, Lagos, 1960; Clerk, Standard Bank of West Africa, 1960-1961; research fellow, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos, 1968-1972; and legal officer, Nigerian Oil Corporation, 1972-1976. He was in private practice in Lagos from 1976 to 1979, and became Commissioner for Education, Lagos State from 1979 to 1983. Dr Ayinla Idris was arrested in January 1984, sentenced to life imprisonment in 1985, with the sentence reduced to 15 years in 1986. He was a member of the Nigeria Bar Association; member, British Bar Association; member, Nigeria Constitution Drafting Committee, 1975-1976; former member, Electoral Law Committee; member, Nigerian Society of International Law; and fellow, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos, 1968.
Monsignor (Colonel) Pedro Ayodele Martins (1910-2014) was the first Lagosian to be ordained a Catholic priest, and he was also the first Catholic chaplain for the Nigerian Army, and the first director of the Nigerian Army Chaplain Services (Catholic). After his military service, he served as vicar-general to the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Olubunmi (as he then was) Okogie. Monsignor Martins carried out the task with his accustomed fairness. Born in Lagos in 1910, he was the grandson of a Brazilian slaver. His paternal grandmother was an ethnic Hausa, and hte grew up in a household that observed the Christian and Moslem traditions. This background would seem to explain his approach to his work as a priest, soldier, and public servant; indeed his entire life. He was religious without being dogmatic or doctrinaire.
Alhaji Mamman Ali Makele was born on August 20, 1940 in Agbaja, Kwara State. He had his education at a secondary school in Okene between 1954 and 1959; King’s College, Lagos, 1960-61; University of Ibadan, 1962-65; Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, USA, 1969-70; University of Wisconsin, USA, 1970 University of Kent, Canterbury, 1985-86; University of London, 1986-87. He was Assistant Executive Officer, Ministry of Establishment, Lagos, from January—September, 1962; Assistant Executive Officer, Cabinet Office, Lagos; June — September, 1963; Assistant Executive Officer, Parliament, Lagos, June — September 1964; Assistant Secretary, Federal Ministry of Economic Development, Lagos, July —October, 1965; Administrative Officer, University of Lagos, 1965-67; Assistant Registrar/Principal Assistant Registrar, Unilag, 1967-76; Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, 1971-75; Commissioner for Economic Development, Kwara State, 1975-77; member, Constitution Drafting Committee, 1976-77; Deputy Registrar, University of Lagos, 1976-80; Chairman, Leventis Group of Companies Scholarship Committee, 1976-80; Chairman, Public Accounts Committee, Kwara State, 1977-79; Director and Chair man, Chase Merchant Bank Nigeria Limited, 1977-80; Acting Cabinet Minister, Department of Steel Development, Office of the President of Nigeria, 1980-81; Cabinet Minister for Steel Development, 1981-83; Political Parties: member, defunct Northern Peoples Congress Students’ Wing, University of Ibadan, 1963-65; member, National Executive Committee, banned National Party of Nigeria, 1978-83; member, Kwara State Economic Planning Board, 1972-75.
Alhaji Mamman Daura, was born on November 9, 1939 in Daura, in the present day Katsina State. He started his education at the Daura Elementary School, 1946-1949, Katsina Middle Secondary School, 1949-1954, Bournemouth College of Technology, England, 1958-1962, Trinity College, University of Dublin, Eire, 1962-1966, 1968; employee, Daura Native Authority, 1955-1958, programme assistant, , Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Kaduna, 1958, deputy secretary, Executive Council of Northern Nigeria, 1967-1968, Senior Assistant Secretary, Political Section, Military Governor’s Office, 1969, Editor, New Nigeria, 1969, Managing Director, New Nigerian Newspapers, 1974-1976, member, Board of Directors, News Agency of Nigeria, 1978, later appointed Chairman, Nigeria Television Authority, 1986; member, NBC Committee of Inquiry, 1970-1971, member, Committee of Inquiry, Broadcasting Company of Northern Nigeria, 1974, member, State Drought Relief Committee, 1974, chairman, North Central State Campaign against Drug Addiction and Allied Evils, 1974, member, Governing Council, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, member, Manufacturer’s Association of Nigeria, director, Nigerian Building Society, director, Dunlop Nigeria Industries since 1974, director, Northern Nigeria Investments since January 1974, appointed chairman, Board of Directors, Bank of Credit and Commerce International (Nigeria) Ltd.
Dr Obi Wali (February 27, 1932 – April 26, 1993) was an intellectual giant compared to his height. Dr Wali would take you on intellectual voyage and you will never be the same again.
The manner of his death is still a shock to me till today. He was violently murdered and dismembered at home in his bedroom by suspected hired assassins on April 26, 1993. Dr Obi Wali was in the league of intellectuals like S.G. Ikoku, Chief Bola Ige, Dr Ibrahim Tahir, Comrade Ola Oni, Gani Fawehinmi, Kanmi Ishola Osobu, Odia Ofeimun, Dr Bala Usman, Professor Godini Gabriel Darah, Comrade Laoye Sanda, Professor Akin Oyebode, Arthur Nwankwo, Chinua Achebe, Professor Wole Soyinka, Dr Tai Solarin, Professor Kole Omotoso, Professor Ladipo Adamolekun, Professor Bayo Williams, Professor Ralph Akinfeleye and a host of others too numerous to mention. They all live in a world of ideas.
Dr Obi Wali was a member of the Constituent Assembly.
In 1979, he was elected to represent Port Harcourt senatorial zone of Rivers State. Others elected to represent Rivers State at that time were Senators Francis Ajie John Ellah (Ahoada/Ikwere/Etche), Gbene Cyrus Nwidonane Nunieh (Bonny/Bori), O. Eberewariye (Degema) and Amatari Zuofa (Brass/Sagbama/Yenogoa).
Dr Obi Wali later became the deputy Nigeria Peoples Party Senate leader to Senator Jaja Anucha Nwachukwu (January 1, 1918- November 7, 1996) from Aba. That was when I became his friend. His intellectual contributions in the Senate were exceptional. In 2014, the Obi Wali International Conference Centre was opened to the public in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, created and named in the memory of Obi Wali’s political and literary contributions. Till today, the Ikwerre people organise an annual memorial lecture in Obi Wali’s honour.
Dr Obi Wali’s Committee did not recommend the creation of a State Police. What the committee recommended was documented thus: “The Sub-Committee in discussing the structure of the police for the country raised the question whether the unified Police system, now in operation, accords with the spirit of federalism. The preponderance of sentiments however was for the continuation of a unified structure.
However, while the Sub-Committee favours the continuation of a unified police structure for the country, it believes that a different arrangement from what now obtains should be made in the operatio of the Police. This is because each level of government, central state and local has responsibility for the maintenance of law and order, and each should share in the operational control of the Police commensurate with the level of its responsibilities. The Sub-Committee recommends that the Police force that operates at the local authority area should be under the operational direction of the local authorities, where such local authorities have been entrusted with the responsibility for maintenance of law and order.
Conflicts between the local authority and local police command could be resolved through a system of appeals, the police appealing through the State Command and local authority through the State Ministry of Local Government. It is also suggested that an advisory committee established at the local level could be useful in discussing issues concerning the local authority/local Police relations.
The Sub-Committee discussed Section 106(4) of the 1963 Constitution which requires the Commissioner of Police of a region to comply with the direction of the Premier of a Region and that in case of disagreement with such direction, the Commissioner may request that the matter be referred to the Prime Minister of the Federation.
It was argued that the recourse directly to the Prime Minister, rather than through the intermediary of the Inspector-General of Police, undermines his authority as the Inspector-General (who) has the constitutional responsibility for the operational control of the Police. However, it was agreed that it is not proper that any disagreement involving the Governor of a state be passed through the Inspector-General who is a public official.
The issue of possible conflict between the State and Central government on the control of police operations, especially where the state government concerned is from a party which is not a the same as the party in control of the central government was raised. It was thought that this issue is not limited to control of police only and that it is a question of state/federal relations to be dealt with by the appropriate Sub-Committee”.
“There shall be a Police Force for Nigeria, which shall be styled the Nigeria Police Force 2. Subject to the provision of this Constitution, the Nigeria Police Force shall be organised and administered in accordance with such provision as may be made in that behalf by the legislature. 3. Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the members of the Nigeria Police Force shall have such powers and duties as may be conferred upon them by any law in force in Nigeria. 4. No police forces other than the Nigeria Police Force shall be established for Nigeria or any part thereof. 5. The Legislature may make provision during emergencies for Police Forces forming part of the armed forces of the Federation, or for protection of harbours, waterways, railways and airfields. 6. There shall be an Inspector-General of the Nigeria Police and a Commissioner of Police for each state of the Federation, whose offices shall be offices in the Public Service of the Federation. 7. The Nigeria Police Force shall be under the command of the Inspector-General of the Nigeria Police. 8. The President or such other Minister of the Government of the Federation as may be authorised in that behalf by the President may give to the Inspector-General of the Nigeria Police such directions with respect to the maintaining and securing of public safety and public order as he may consider necessary and the Inspector-General shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with.
9. Subject to (3) above, the Commissioner of Police of a State shall comply with the directions of the Governor of the State or such other Commissioner of the Government of the State as may be authorised in that behalf by the Governor with respect to the maintaining and securing of public safety and public order within the State or cause them to be complied with: Provided that before carrying out any such directions the Commissioner may request that the matter should be referred to the President or such other Commissioner of the Government of the Federation as may be authorised in that behalf by the President for his directions. 10. Subject to (3) and (4) above the Police Command at the local authority area shall comply with the directions of the local authority of the area with respect to the maintaining and securing of public safety and public order within the local authority area. Provided that before carrying out such directions the local police command may request that the matter should be referred to the Governor of the state or other Commissioner of the State Government as may be authorised in that behalf by the Governor for his directions. 11. There shall be a Nigeria Police Council, which shall consist of: (a) The President (b) State Governors (c) The Inspector-General of Police (d) The Attorney-General of the Federation (e) The Chairman of the Police Service Commission of the Federation. The Inspector-General of the Nigeria Police shall attend the meetings of the Nigeria Police Council and, save for the purpose of voting, may take part in the proceedings of the Council.
12. The policy, organisation and administration of the Nigeria Police Force and all other matters relating thereto (not being matters relating to the use and operational control of the force of the appointment, disciplinary control and dismissal of members of the force) shall be under the general supervision of the Nigeria Police Council. 13. The President shall cause the Nigeria Police Council to be kept fully informed concerning the matters under its supervision and shall cause the Council to be furnished with such information as the Council may require with respect to any particular matter under its supervision. 14. The Nigeria Police Council may take recommendations to the Government of the Federation with respect to any matter under its supervision, and if in any case the Government acts otherwise than in accordance with any such recommendations it shall cause a statement containing that recommendation and its reasons for acting otherwise than in accordance with that recommendation to be laid before the National Assembly”.
And that is why Chief Rotimi Williams in his speech on November 1, 1977, did not include State Police creation when he presented his bill to the Constituent Assembly presided over by Justice Egbert Udo Udoma((June 21, 1917 – February 2, 1998), who was the Chief Justice of Uganda from 1963-1969. The regimes of President Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari (GCFR; February 25, 1925–December 28, 2018), Turakin Sokoto, Major General Muhammadu Buhari GCFR (79), General Ibrahim Babangida(80) GCFR, Chief Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan GCFR (9 May 1936–11 January 2022, General Sani Abacha GCFR (20 September 1943- 8 June 1993) and General Abdusalam Abubakar GCFR (80) did not create state Police.
After his inauguration as President on May 29,199, President Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR then set up a Presidential Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution. The Committee was inaugurated on behalf of President Obasanjo by his then Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief Kanu Agabi (76). The Committee which was later headed by Chief Clement David Ebri(69) former Governor Cross River State, submitted its reports to President Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR on February 28, 2001, unfortunately the committee did not recommend the creation of State Police.
Prominent members of the Committee were Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Ayo Opadokun, Chief Barnabas Gemade, Chief A.K. Horsfall, Alhaji Iro Abubakar Dan Musa, Chief Arthur Nwankwo, Barrister Adeniyi Akintola, Chief Solomon Asemota (SAN), Mrs. Ayoka Lawani and others.
What the committee recommend was this “Two positions were canvassed by Nigerians on the desirability or otherwise of allowing States to establish and maintain their Police. Proponents of separate Police for the States rested their demand on the strong ground that it was consistent with federal practice. The arrangement, they argued, enabled the Federating States to effectively maintain law and order, especially during other social upheavals such as inter-communal riots, youth restiveness, riots and ethnic militancy without the often costly delays in obtaining Federal approval by the Commissioner of Police e ewe a State Governor has so directed/requested. The handling of the various inter communal upheavals in the various states of the federation since the beginning of the current democratic governance left much to be desired. This, many people believe was due to the provision of Section 215 (4) of the Constitution which hinders a Governor from exercising his power as Chief Security Officer of the State.
Another example mentioned for the failure or weaknesses in the present centralized Police structure was the inability of the Nigeria Police to contend with the high rate of violent crimes which ravaged major towns all over the country. In response to the hostage-like situation in which the States were held by hoodlums, some State Governments• have resorted to establishing Vigilante Groups which they claim have successfully dealt with the crime• situation in those States. In some instances however, people often accuse these groups as some kind of local “militia” who would not hesitate to take the laws into their hands at will and molest people. The recent experiences in some parts of this country constitute sufficient lessons not to allow local “militia” to be formed. The Nigeria Police is however so badly equipped and unmotivated and so could not effectively deal with the crime and security situation in the country.
Representations against State Police bordered on the fear of abuses to which State Governors may subject their Police. These fears included those of intimidation and harassment of political opponents and perpetuation of electoral frauds. References were made to the experiences in the Country during the former Regional Governments when the authorities put the Regional and Local Authority Police to abuse – a development which led to occasional breakdown of law and order. The fall of the first Republic was partly blamed on the ignoble use of the Regional and local Police. It was, therefore, feared that it ‘Was too soon in the life of Nigeria’s nascent democracy for the idea of State Police to be entertained. For this school of thought, it was argued that the need for State Commissioners of Police to occasionally clear operational instructions with the Inspector-General was intended to check abuses and ensure that the orders by Governors were actually lawful What the Nigeria Police needed in order to function properly and serve Nigerians more effectively, was a retraining programme, proper funding and adequate and up-to-date equipment while steps should be taken to sanitise the institution and rid it of corruption and other vices. The Committee weighed the agitations for and against allowing States to establish their Police Force. Both sides of the argument have their merits and demerits. However, the Committee notes that while the idea of State Police at some future date could not be wished away as Nigeria gradually matures in democratic governance, the prevailing situation today does not warrant the establishment of a parallel Police Force at the state level let alone at Local Government level. By so doing, there is the inherent danger of threatening the corporate existence of the nation. The Committee maintains that national stability and unity at all times should be the overriding concern of all Nigerians.
In view of the possible destabilising effect of having parallel Police at the State and Federal levels, the Committee recommends that the existing constitutional provisions as provided in Sections 214, 215 and 216 be retained. It however agrees that there is need for reorientation, reorganization and repositioning of the Nigeria Police to enable it meet the requirements of public order, public safety and democratic governance at all levels”.
I could not believe what I read in Clement Ebri’s committee’s report.
Even in the United States, the state police is a police body unique to each U.S. state, having statewide authority to conduct law enforcement activities and criminal investigations. In general, state police officers, known as state troopers, perform functions that do not fall within the jurisdiction of the county sheriff (Vermont being a notable exception), such as enforcing traffic laws on state highways and interstate expressways, overseeing the security of the state capitol complex, protecting the governor, training new officers for local police forces too small to operate an academy and providing technological and scientific services. They support local police and help to coordinate multi-jurisdictional task force activity in serious or complicated cases in those states that grant full police powers statewide.
In many states, the state police are known by different names: the various terms used are “State Police”, “Highway Patrol”, “State Highway Patrol”, “State Patrol”, and “State Troopers”. However, the jurisdictions and functions of these agencies are usually the same, regardless of title. Some agencies’ names are actually misnomers with respect to the work regularly done by their members. All but two state police entities use the term “trooper” to refer to their commissioned members.
I am aware that Spain, Mexico, Indonesia, India, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Argentina and many countries have state police. And this has helped the security outfit of those countries.
Since 1999, we have been attempting to amend the Constitution but till today, we have not created state police. Since 1999, every deputy Senate President to date, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu(2003-2007), Ike Ekweremadu(June 6 2007-June 11, 2019), Obansi Ovie Omo Agege(11 June 2019 to date) and deputy speakers of the House of Representatives from 1999 to date, Chibubom Nwuche (61), Austin Adiele Opara(58), Emeka Ihedioha(57), Yusuf Sulaiman Lasun(61), Ahmed Idris Wuse(58) have all been charged as Chairmen of various committees to amend the Constitution. Huge amount of money have been allocated for these exercise, we are yet to have state police included in the constitution.
The question now is, do we need State Police and is it desirable. Of course we do and it is urgently desirable. It is hereby advocated.
Eric Teniola, a former director in the Presidency, writes from Lagos.
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